Akwaaba to Accra – Welcome to Accra

Sonya Tareke

UB MBA ’20 Candidate | Global Ambassador

UB MBA students make their way across the 130-foot suspension bridges above the Kakum Rainforest, Ghana
UB MBA students make their way across the 130-foot suspension bridges above the Kakum Rainforest, Ghana

Medaase! This is a term in Twi I have come to know and love. Meaning thank you, I learned this from my time in the place where the prime meridian and equator collide—the center of the world, Ghana. This blog is yet another way for me to say medaase to the UB School of Management for its generous support of this inspiring experiential learning opportunity.

By the end of my time as an MBA, I will have had the honor of spending not one, but two winter sessions abroad in Africa amongst my peers, faculty and newfound family in a place where few of us could have ever guessed we would feel so at home.

My first visit, from late December through mid-January, was both a medical and management trip. During the medical portion I was a project aide, and during the management portion I served as a project lead.

As an aide, I was fortunate enough to shadow and work alongside doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacy and medical students, as well as local translators – two of whom are twins. Our daily activities ranged from pop-up day clinics, to a mental health talk at a military hospital, to a fish marketplace tour and even to a female entrepreneurship panel.

As a lead during the management portion, I took an active role in facilitating a “Koding for Kids” workshop as a foundational step towards building a computer lab at the Bawaleshie Elementary and Middle School. What touched me the most out of all of these experiences was the sheer joy and warm welcome these children shared with us throughout our three-day visit to the school.

Not only was my three weeks in Ghana mentally stimulating, it was spiritually rejuvenating as well. Our team braved seven 130-foot suspension bridges above the Kakum Rainforest. Unique to the African continent, the canopy walk allows hikers to experience a portion of the rainforest usually reserved for the wildlife still living within it. As you can see, it was so much fun!

Additionally, two of my medical teammates are originally from Ghana and this was their first time back in nearly two decades. Being able to witness them reconnect to their roots was a bonding experience none of us will soon forget. Some of my favorite team bonding moments were by far the endless exposure to delicious Ghanaian cuisine: red-red, tilapia, banku, (the best) jollof rice and more.

Door of No Return, Cape Coast Slave Castle
Door of No Return, Cape Coast Slave Castle

On a heavier note, we took a powerful journey through the chambers of the Cape Coast Slave Castle to learn more about the business of slavery. Here we walked through the “Door of No Return” which, for millions of African slaves, was the point where they would take their final steps from their home continent to the New World—that is, if they survived the journey. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama engraved a plaque on the castle walls in 2009 during their visit, calling the visit “a reminder that we have to remain vigilant when it comes to the defense of human rights.”

The Ghana experience is so distinctive thanks to its blend of business, cultural awareness and community health. Experiences like these are what we students—the world’s future leaders—need to lead socially conscious careers and leave equally socially conscious legacies. This experience had such a personal impact on me that just one month later, I took part in another School of Management trip to San Jose, Costa Rica for similar volunteer project work. Not only do I plan to return to Ghana for a second time this winter, but I also plan to be a member of the inaugural India 2020 team directly after.

I say all of this to drive home the point that my proudest achievement during my six years as a UB management student will be my time as a Global Ambassador. Had it not been for the continued support of the School of Management, none of this would have been possible. So, I will end this first chapter of my story in the same way I began — medaase!

Sonya Tareke
Sonya Tareke

Sonya Tareke, BS ’17, MBA ’20

One Reply to “Akwaaba to Accra – Welcome to Accra”

  1. Medaase, Sonya! Could not have described this better myself!

    Going to Ghana with the UB SOM was an incredible experience. The opportunity to go abroad and learn in such a fashion is unlike any other and should not be passed-up! Experiences like this during one’s education should be a must. They are truly eye-opening and engaging. This is active learning, something that is missed sitting in a classroom. I wish I could go back and do even more! I highly recommend that everybody should take advantage of these opportunities!

    All the best on the upcoming trips! Medaase for sharing, Sonya!

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